Malta is buying electricity from the European grid for more than five times the price it used to before the Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic sent prices through the roof.
According to a map of EU energy purchases published this week, Malta paid around €591 per megawatt for power from the European grid on Monday.
Sources at state utilities provider EneMalta said that two years ago, power from the interconnector was priced at around €100 per megawatt.
The prices are forecast to climb even higher, to a quarterly high in the region of €700 per megawatt, according to industry experts.
"These prices we are seeing now are a huge burden on the government's funds and are costing the taxpayer millions and millions of Euros," a senior source said.
The map is published daily by the Greek energy regulator.
While the rising cost of utilities has been the subject of debate in households and businesses across most of the EU, in Malta consumers have so far been protected from price hikes.
Enemalta has continued to sell electricity to consumers at 2014 prices, even though its costs have gone through the roof.
In April the government committed €200 million to protect consumers from surging energy prices. It did not say how long this money would cover the costs.
The following month, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli was in Brussels to tell her European counterparts that as an island, Malta is being adversely impacted by the price of wholesale energy purchases.
How does Malta compare to its European neighbours?
The price Enemalta pays for electricity from the interconnector is determined by a daily auction on the open market.
The €591 per megawatt Malta forked out for its latest purchase is more or less in line with what other member states are paying.
Germany paid €600 per megawatt, while France paid €611 and Italy paid €605.
Spain paid a much lower €182 but they are buoyed by their significant dependence on renewable energy production.
How much does Malta rely on the interconnector?
Malta partially relies on the interconnector to Italy to meet electricity demands. The country's energy supply is a mix of the interconnector cable and a gas-fired power station in Marsaxlokk.
The Electrogas station is operated by a consortium that includes Maltese companies Gasan and Tumas, German company Siemens and Azerbaijan’s Socar.
The power station deal is highly controversial and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was working on a leaked trove of data prior to her October 2017 assassination.
Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of complicity in her murder, owned a company that was set to pay $2 million to then OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri's and ex-Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi's Panama companies.
Meanwhile, in June the government announced that Malta was set to get a second electricity interconnector linking the island to Sicily.
The 200-megawatt cable is expected to cost €170 million and will run parallel to the existing interconnector that links Malta with Ragusa. It is slated to be completed in 2025.
A study undertaken by an international consultancy firm, France Electric, had concluded that the best way to meet the projected growth in electricity demand was through a second subaquatic cable linking Malta to the European grid.